This is What Empty Nesters Need to Consider Once the Kids Move Out

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It’s finally happened.

You spent decades raising your kids, and now they’ve all moved out. They’ve gone off to college or gotten their own places.

The house is weirdly quiet.

You’re an empty nester. What are you supposed to do now?

Don’t make the same mistake too many empty nesters make. Intoxicated by their newfound freedom, they blow way too much money on lavish vacations, expensive hobbies, dinners at nice restaurants or costly home improvements.

Don’t do that. Do this instead.

This is a major life event, on par with getting married or having a baby. It’s an ideal time to sit down, rethink your finances and plan a smart strategy for this next phase of your life.

Here’s our checklist of six things empty nesters need to do.

1. Assess Your Retirement Savings

News flash: Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute finds the average family has nowhere near enough money in retirement funds.

Not sure how your savings stack up? Try this calculator. It’ll tell you how much to start saving to stay on track toward a decent retirement. Better yet, sit down with a financial adviser.

Not sure if you have the right amount invested in stocks versus bonds? Sign up for a robo-advisor like Blooom, an app that’ll optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you.

2. Reevaluate Your Spending

Track your expenses and draw up a new monthly budget. Now that your kids are out of the house, you may be spending less on certain things.

Like we said earlier, resist the urge to splurge. Many empty nesters don’t save more money. A recent study by Boston College found that the 401(k) savings of empty nesters only increase by a puny 0.3% to 0.7%.

Basically, they’re spending about what they were spending before.

3. Use That Empty Bedroom to Make Extra Money

Decide what to do with that vacant bedroom or two. Maybe turn one into a study or sewing room.

Or try listing a room on Airbnb to make extra money. Google “Airbnb empty nester,” and you’ll find tons of people doing exactly that.

Seniors, and especially female seniors, are the fastest-growing group of Airbnb hosts in the U.S. If you’ve never been an Airbnb host and you have questions about it, here’s a good place to start.

4. Consider Downsizing

Now that your nest is empty, it might be time to downsize it.

Moving into a smaller home can save you money on your mortgage and power bill. Moving into an apartment can save you money on maintenance, landscaping and property taxes.

Start downsizing at home first. To save time and aggravation when moving, get rid of stuff you don’t need.

Clear out your old DVDs, Blu-rays and CDs with the Decluttr app. Scan the barcode with your phone, and Decluttr will make you an offer. Right now, it’s offering an extra $5 to orders when you use the code FREE5 at checkout.

You can also sell nearly anything through the Letgo app. Just snap a photo of your item and set up a listing in about 30 seconds.

5. Talk About Money with Your Adult Children

Sit down with your kids and set realistic expectations for how much you’ll be supporting them once they’re out of the house — whether it’s tuition, housing, insurance or food.

6. Consider Your Grocery List

Speaking of food, it’s time to revamp your grocery shopping list.

Shopping for food should be cheaper with fewer mouths to feed. But without kids in the house, you might not want to cook as much, so you’ll spend more money eating out.

Plan home-cooked meals that can be done on a smaller scale.

Since we’re talking about food, here’s our master list on how to save money on groceries.

And if you’re eating out more, here are our tips for saving money at restaurants. And you should definitely check out Ibotta, a free cash-back app that offers rebates at grocery stores, restaurants and bars.

In conclusion, enjoy your new empty-nest adventure! The smarter you are about it, the better off you’ll be.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He still has a full house.